Friday, June 19, 2015

Impressive: Another Rich White Guy Hates Fags.

by Dick Mac

Anthony Fera, the president of Houston’s MidStar Energy LP, exchanged angry words with a gay couple, called them faggots, left his vehicle in traffic, punched one unconscious.

The incident allegedly began when the victims yelled at the driver of a pickup truck that they said nearly hit them as it drove out of a parking lot. The Dallas Voice reported that the driver responded with antigay slurs, stepped out of the vehicle and allegedly knocked Andy Smith— who was walking with his husband Paul von Wupperfeld— unconscious as the dispute escalated. Smith was unconscious for less than a minute as a result, the media report said. See, Houston oil business president charged with assault on gay couple, from the Houston Business Journal
Pictures taken at the scene included the license plate number on the pickup driven by the man who attacked Smith, allowing police to trace the pickup to Anthony Fera, president of an Austin-based oil company. . . .  Fera has been arrested several other times in Texas and Pennsylvania. See, North Texas man attacked in Austin, from the Dallas Voice
So, this guy is a violent repeat offender, but his bail was only $5,000.  When will a sociopath like this be locked-up to protect America?  Why is he free on bail?  What happens when he hits another person?

[CORRECTION 6/19/2105 14:04:  It is the victim, Andy Smith, who is the executive director of the Texas Instruments Foundation.]

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Wow! I just realized something about "christian conservative" florists!

by Dick Mac

I start with the disclaimer that I am a Christian, a Catholic.  I like the teachings of Jesus Christ and try to integrate those notions into my day-to-day life (with varying degrees of success and failure) so my view may be skewed, but I ask your indulgence.

If a "christian conservative" is a person who takes the Bible literally (which is what they seem to constantly claim), then they believe that everything on Earth is created by God.  Given that line of thinking, the flowers that a Christian (or a "christian conservative") florist sells are available for sale only through God's good graces.

So, God has created flowers for all people (we are all God's children, if I am not mistaken).  God has created flowers for funerals and weddings and gifts and decoration and also to play a role in the food chain.  Flowers are multi-purpose and for Christians (and "christian conservatives") they must represent further proof of God's awesome plan and creation.

How then, can a "christian conservative" decide who gets to use God's creation and who doesn't?  If "christian conservatives" already believe that flowers are the provenance (as everything is) of God, then it is their duty as Christians to be certain that all people share in God's bounty.  In America, of course, that means the consumer has the ability to pay for the service; but, let's put that aside for the time being.

So, every Christian florist (and "christian conservative" florist, too), has a duty to provide flowers to every couple who wants them at their wedding.  Christian (and "christian conservative") florists are stewards of God's bounty, after all, and as stewards it is their responsibility to ENSURE that all people have flowers at their weddings.

So, either flowers are part of God's gift to us and florists are stewards of that gift with the simple responsibility of distributing to all of God's children who want (and can afford) them.  OR, flowers are the domain of "christian conservatives," God has no role in the bounty, and "christian conservatives" assume the power to decide who gets flowers and who doesn't.

So, "christian conservatives":  which way is it?  Are flowers part of God's bounty and awesome creation or not.  Are florists stewards of God's bounty, or are florists God's police?

It seems to me you can't have it both ways.

Florists who refuse to sell flowers to same-sex couples for a wedding are bad people, wholly un-American, completely un-Christ-like, and an embarrassment to God and country.

Wow, "christian conservative" florists aren't Christians, at all!

I’m a florist, but I refused to do flowers for my gay friend’s wedding

As a closing thought, chances are that the flowers done by florists who don't like same-sex marriage are probably not very nice floral arrangements.  But, that's another thread.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Maybe Not A DINO, But Certainly A LINO

by Dick Mac

Let me start by saying that, in 2016, I will likely vote for the Democratic nominee for President, no matter who that is. Although I vote Green all the way up the electoral food chain until President, this would not be out of the ordinary for me. The Green Party has just not ever run a presidential candidate I can vote for.

Recently, a friend posted this article about Hillary Clinton's declaration that she is a candidate for President:  Ready for Hillary Derangement Syndrome?

Articles about Hillary Clinton and ensuing discussions of her being a "liberal" candidate raise the hair on the back of my neck.

I have stated in the past, including yesterday, that Hillary Clinton is a DINO (Democrat in name only), and I am wrong. She is a full-fledged Democrat. This, of course, is part of the problem. The truth is that Hillary is a Liberal in name only, a LINO.

I find it difficult, impossible really, to believe that a candidate who supports, and works wholeheartedly, to implement economic policy based on supply-side economic theory, is a liberal. No matter what they think of penises, vaginas, reproduction, religion or any other now-popular social issue. Add to that an unwavering commitment to international trade policies like NAFTA and CAFTA, and chit-chat about weddings and abortions are hardly qualities that make someone a liberal.
Having the mainstream media define the notions of liberalism based on Congresses so far to the right that Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon would be unelectable, only highlights the notion that this candidate may not be a DINO, but is certainly a LINO!
Being to the left of Rafael Cruz and Rand Paul is not liberal, it is being less right-wing that two lunatics.

I prefer to vote for liberals and progressives, which is why I so rarely vote for Democrats and never give them any money. 

We need Green more candidates and stronger Green parties. 

As long as real liberals settle for Democrats, we will be voting for "liberals" like Clinton for centuries to come. Yippee! I can marry my boyfriend, but I can't ever find a career because the "liberals" have jumped on a bandwagon with the right-wing and implemented economic policy that flies in the face of social liberalism. One can't be a fiscal conservative and a social liberal, because electing fiscal conservatives means the implementation of social policy that is anti-liberal. So, Hillary Clinton may be more liberal than Marco Rubio, but she is not a liberal.

Consider investigating the liberal and progressive parties in your area that are affiliated with, or part of, the Green Party: Green Party Ballot Access. And if you don't want to have anything to do with Greens, please investigate other options in your area.

This wasn't actually intended to be a post abut the Greens, but here are some Green Links:

Green Party of New York

Green Party of the United States

Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bigotry or Stupidity? Which Is It For Homophobic Fashion Designers?

by Dick Mac

The acceptance of gay marriage and non-traditional families by decent people is a sign of wonder, and shows that God's grace touches all who are open to it.  Those who oppose gay marriage and non-traditional families are not decent people.

When people wave the flag of "free expression" to defend their bigotry, one thing is clear:  they've been caught expressing bigoted views.  Many believe that draping themselves in the mantle of "freedom" will draw attention away from their stupidity and turn their victims into the bad guys.

A gay couple who design clothes for a living recently said that (and I paraphrase) gay people shouldn't have children, non-traditional families are bad, and that IVF produces less-than-dignified children.  Actual quotes include these gems:
"We oppose gay adoptions. The only family is the traditional one. No chemical offsprings and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed."  
"You are born to a mother and a father – or at least that’s how it should be. I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog."
"The family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging."
These statements are pretty ordinary opinions and are held by billions of small-minded people from all walks of life.  Fortunately, billions of open-minded people from all walks of life do not hold such narrow views of the world.

Some relatively famous people are upset about this and have joined a boycott of the clothing line.

The bigots then frame the debate this way (this from often-misguided The Guardian newspaper):

  • Is it right to boycott them because of their remarks?
  • Are they just exercising their freedom of expression?

Hey, stupids:  that is not a logical comparison of the matters at hand.  We all agree they have the right to express themselves.

This is how the surveys make sense:
  • Do you agree with these clothing designers' position on families?
  • Do you disagree with these clothing designers' position on families?
Or . . .
  • Are they good people for expressing these views about non-traditional families?
  • Are they bad people for expressing these views about non-traditional families?
Or . . .
  • Do you think non-traditional families should be treated the same way as traditional families?
  • Do you think non-traditional families should be treated differently than traditional families?
Or . . .
  • Do you plan to boycott the clothing line because of their remarks?
  • Do you plan to support the clothing line in spite of their remarks?
These questions actually give us insight into public opinion.  Mixing up the actual remarks with a technical question about freedom is not a valid discussion.  Yet, the bigots and their apologists get away with it all the time!

Don't argue with bigots.  Point at them and laugh, shake your head and walk away slowly.

Bigots aren't stupid people, they are bad people.  Treat them as such.


Sunday, March 08, 2015

The Bells

by Dick Mac

I grew-up in a relatively not-so-well-to-do section of Boston.

Mission Hill, in Roxbury, was a predominantly Irish Catholic community through the mid-1960s and changed, along with all major cities in the North, during the Great Migration.  As a child, I lived at three different addresses in Mission Hill:  26 Oregon Court, 157 Calumet Street, and 104 McGreevey Way.  My mother was from Hillside Street and my father was from Kempton Street.  We were a Mission Hill family.

Used without permission.
I went to the local parochial school, and attended Mass at the Mission Church, which is actually The Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Situated halfway up the Hill, between the pumping station beneath the projects and the open fields at the top of the hill, the twin spires of Mission Church loomed large over my childhood.  Looking up the hill from Oregon Court, they were (and remain), a stunning architectural vision.

I hated going to church as a kid. My earliest memories are of the Mass being said in Latin and the only thing I found interesting was reading along as the service slowly moved forward.  I remember the responses being in green text, but someone recently insisted to me that they were in red.  Aurally, the only thing I remember is "Et cum spiritu tuo."  That was changed, sometime around 1966, to "And also with you." Today, we say "And with your spirit."

You see, I may have despised attending Mass in 1965, but I quite like it now.  I am into communion, whether it is religious or social, whether gathered for worship or hedonism.  I like being with people.  Let's listen to Father Robert or David Bowie, as long as we're doing it together!

There were a lot of priests, brothers and sisters at Mission Church.  The campuses surrounding the Basilica were impressive:  rectory, convent, grammar school, junior high school (the Guild building), theater (St. Alphonsus Hall), and garden.  Then up the hill, on Alleghany Street was the high school and another convent.  The church, physically, psychologically, and spiritually, was a huge presence.  For many, it still is.

For me, in the 1960s, this was "church." This was where you went on Sundays and where you received the sacraments, and where you went to school.  It wasn't really anything special to me.  Everyone I knew:  all my relatives, all my friends, everyone I'd ever met, went to some church or temple.  My cousins on the other side of Roxbury went to St. Patrick's, when my grandmother moved she went to St. Thomas Aquinas, my godmother went to St, Theresa's, and on and on and on.

I assumed everybody's church looked like mine.  I didn't know a basilica from a cathedral from a chapel.  I didn't know an "apse from a hole" as some non-church-going relative once said at a Sunday dinner.

I wish I could remember when and where this was:  I attended Mass with another Catholic family in some suburb in the early-1970s and it all looked rather plain, rather Protestant.  It was wood, not stone or brick, and it was only one story high.  It was downright humble, and that wasn't a notion I'd ever associated with the Catholic Church.  In my mind as a child, catholicity was directly connected to grandiosity, those notions were inseparable.  Sometimes today, they still are.  I love big, overbearing churches.  The more details, statues, stained-glass and unique architectural features, the better.

I wanted my religion big, not humble, because that's what I knew.  Even to this day, I prefer large, ostentatious churches to small humble churches.  I don't think this directly affects my spiritual condition, but it might.

In the twin spires at Mission Church, were the bells. Twelve of them, and they had names:

  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help; 4,200 lbs.
  • St. Joseph; 3,000 lbs.
  • St. Patrick; 2,100 lbs.
  • St. Alphonsus; 1,800 lbs.
  • St. Clement Hofbauer; 1,600 lbs.
  • St. John; 1,280 lbs.
  • St. Francis Xavier; 930 lbs.
  • St. Gerard Majella; 820 lbs.
  • St. Michael; 710 lbs.
  • St. Gabriel; 600 lbs.
  • St. Florian; 450 lbs.
  • St. Cecilia; 360 lbs.

Every fifteen minutes, the bells chimed the Westminster Quarters, which on the hour were followed by the Big Ben count noting the hour (it really did go on and on at Noon).  (Hear an example of the chimes at this link). 

Those spires and those bells are inspirational.  Whatever your conclusion,

I've never heard anybody, of any faith or belief, visit Mission Church or hear those bells and say "Meh!"  It is an impressive, awesome piece of Boston history.

Like all urban Catholic churches in the United States, Mission Church no longer has the income required to maintain it's impressive campus.  White, working-class Catholics like my family abandoned the neighborhood during or right after the Great Migration, to pursue the American Dream of home ownership, becoming middle-class, and living around people who looked like them.

Some urban parishes were saved in the 1980s by the migration of Latino Catholics; but the flight of second-generation European families has had in irreversible impact.  In major cities coast-to-coast, urban Catholic parishes are still merging or closing altogether.

This five-decades long contraction has been amazing to watch, especially because in the past three decades American Catholics have become so very, very Christian:  which seems to mean imposing religious beliefs via law instead of behaving towards fellow human beings in a Christ-like manner.  One no longer needs to go to church or belong to a parish to be an American Catholic, one just needs to attend a tea party, own a gun, and suffer the mantle of constitutionality.

OLPH Basilica, Mission Church.
Laura Bill, 2013
Back in Mission Hill, parish buildings that were once important landmarks for the community have been closed and/or rented to the highest bidder.  The Basilica thrives as a tourist destination, as opposed to a house of worship, and some former parishioners send donations.  Generally speaking, though, specific projects cannot be funded through conventional means.  The money just isn't there.

A few years ago, commemorative paving bricks were sold in the rectory garden to raise money.  When I had the chance to finally visit the garden and see the brick purchased in my mother's memory, I was saddened to see how few bricks were there.  This parish was huge, there were a hundred kids in each grade at the school, every year, for decades.  We got great educations for very short money.  I was shocked at how few participated in that campaign.  I mean, I am a wacky leftist and I don't go around talking about Christian values, but I see the importance of this institution in my life and the lives of so many others.  This is an important site, an important part of Boston history.  I don't recall what was done with the money from the paving bricks, but I doubt the campaign left the bank accounts swollen.

The bells.

The bells are in tough shape and need to be repaired.

During the last major renovation of the Basilica in the 1980s, an automated system was put in place, and that appears to be in good working order (but for how long?). The bolts that hold the bells in place require immediate attention to the tune of more than ten thousand dollars (pun intended).

The parish does not have this money, and they need it.

A fundraising campaign is in place.  A small donation by a lot of people is just as effective as a large donation by a few people.

If you have the means, a donation would very much help save this important piece of architectural Boston.  Even if you do not have or feel a religious, cultural or political affiliation with this project, I ask that you donate here, for me:

Help Save the Bells!